Riding the storm – fast progress towards the finish

833 views  |   June 6th, 2012 

Progress in the last couple of days has been fantastic. Last week we had to take a difficult choice to slow down to avoid the worst of a severe depression that was about to cross our path, as it turned out we saw some horrible conditions and had some damage to sails, Cessna ahead of us was forced to stop the boat during the worst of the gale as a safety precaution in enormous breaking seas, all in all we were happy with our choice although it had cost us quite a few miles to the leaders. In the past few days on the other hand we’ve had the opposite scenario, the extra-tropical storm Beryl was behind us and threatening to give us a nasty battering and all considered the safest option was to try to run as fast as possible ahead of the centre of the cyclone which then hopefully would have passed to our stern on its northward trajectory… The picture shows the very active centre of the low that we are running away from and it’s predicted position behind us, and towards the north. So, with a double incentive, avoiding a storm and getting as fast as possible to the finish line, we’ve been pushing hard and clocked some impressive mileage. Before the winds built up yesterday we were surfing along, fastest boat in the fleet, with the biggest masthead spinnaker, then before sunset the sky started to be covered in clouds, the wind was backing to the south and increasing, all signs of the approaching low pressure system. We changed to the smallest spinnaker, a very heavy number that we’d used extensively in the southern ocean and we kept riding the building seas and winds. During the night we had steady 30-35 knots with the maximum gust at 40 knots, a bit more than we expected but decided to ride it with the spinnaker up, the boat was surfing often at 15 to 18 knots in an exuberant power display, sometimes surfing at over 20 knots between two walls of spray it felt great and i just kept suppressing the thoughts of something going wrong at such speeds with the spinnaker up in that wind… All has held together so far and the miles to go kept decreasing rapidly until earlier on we crossed the psychological milestone of 1000 miles to the finish. The wind is still strong but should start decreasing within hours and hopefully this will become another successful storm tactics pub story to tell!

Posted by: firstclass

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